Review: Damned if You Do by Marie Sexton

May 17, 2016 Books, Reading, Reviews 0 ★★★★

This is my first time reading anything by Marie Sexton and I was happy to find a book that I like for a change. Too many times lately I’ve managed to read duds or books that were merely OK, but this one was a good read. When I requested this eARC, I picked it mainly because I liked the cover and because I’d been meaning to read other books by Marie Sexton but never got the chance. I’ve also always loved a good angels and devils story, particularly when one or the other falls in love. Maybe it’s the temptation aspect of a romance like that, but I can’t resist that trope.

The story focuses on Abaddon who is a low-level devil in Hell, who’s basically been shirking his duties and not meeting his quota of soul-collecting for the month. He hates doing paperwork and in Hell that’s all he does. So, forced to meet his quota or be demoted, Abaddon goes to Earth and searches for what he considers to be his Holy Grail of souls (ie. a human whose soul shines so brightly it’s blinding due to the person being so innocent and pure) and finds Seth at a sort of hipster-ish tent revival in the Alabama (or it might be Georgia, but it’s definitely in The South) backwoods. Abaddon finds Seth in the woods not far from the revival and he watches him for a bit before being found out by Seth who, as it turns out, is blind and has been blind since he was 19 due to reasons unknown. Abaddon tells him he’s a devil there for Seth soul and thus the meet cute has commenced! Through the course of a few weeks (or it could even be days given the shortness of the book) the two continue to meet up, much to the annoyance of Seth’s guardian, and they fall for each other.

As far as short stories, this one was pretty good. I mean, there’s not a whole lot of depth to the story, as it is only 123 pages, but the characters were likable and the romance, while quick, was believable. I liked both of the main characters, which given the plot, I’m pleased with since it could’ve been so easy to make the Christian one at least very annoying. Seth was charming in his naivety though, and the Christian aspect of the book wasn’t done in that overbearing way that chafe’s my heathen ass. This book isn’t meant to convert anyone, which I appreciate. It was just one of a devil being influenced by the good, pure, and innocent nature of his lover, that it saves both of them from fiery torment and paper pushing in Hell in the end. I do wish that Abaddon had been able to corrupt his lover a little bit though. I prefer stories of delicious, seductive corruption more than the other way around. But I still really liked this story.

I’d have loved for this to be a full length novel. I wanted to know more of what Hell was like, since we really only got glimpses with the whole office setting and desk jockey existence of Abaddon. It’s hinted that Hell is more of an urban setting, where devils live in apartments and work dead-end jobs just like in the mortal world, and it would’ve been great to see how Abaddon lived. The romance plot could’ve been drawn out longer, with more of a complex plot too. Such a missed opportunity. But it’s very hard to find good full length M/M novels, it seems, so the fact that this one is enjoyable for its length is still a huge plus. I definitely plan to read more from Marie Sexton in the future.